Author and translator Susan Bernofsky directs the program Literary Translation at Columbia in the MFA Writing Program at the Columbia University School of the Arts. Among her many published translations are retranslations of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha (Modern Library, 2006), Franz Kafka's classic black comedy of nightmarish transformation The Metamorphosis (Norton, 2014), and Jeremias Gotthelf’s 19th-century tale of horror, The Black Spider (NYRB Classics, 2013). She specializes in the work of the great Swiss-German modernist author Robert Walser — she has translated eight of his books, including Microscripts, Berlin Stories, The Walk, and Looking at Pictures and is writing his biography. Her new libretto for Mozart’s The Magic Flute premiered in May 2014 at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis in a production by Isaac Mizrahi with choreography by John Heginbotham and conducted by Jane Glover. Her most recent translation, of Jenny Erpenbeck’s novel The End of Days, won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, the Schlegel-Tieck Translation Prize, the Ungar Award for Literary Translation, and the Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize. In 2014, she was named a Guggenheim Fellow. Her previous awards include the 2006 Helen and Kurt Wolff Translation Prize and the 2012 Hermann Hesse Translation Prize of the City of Calw, as well as grants and fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the PEN Translation Fund, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Leon Levy Center for Biography at the CUNY Graduate Center, and the Lannan Foundation. From 2011–2014 she chaired the Translation Committee of the PEN American Center, and from 2013–2016 she served on the Board of the American Literary Translators Association. In 2013, she co-edited (with Esther Allen) the Columbia University Press anthology In Translation: Translators on Their Work and What It Means, featuring thoughts on translation by leading voices in the field.
Susan Bernofsky Walks the Tightrope: An Interview About Translating Yoko Tawada’s “Memoirs of a Polar Bear”
Stefanie Sobelle talks to Susan Bernofsky about translating Yoko Tawada's new novel as well as works by Kafka, Hesse, and Robert Walser....